Calamari: It’s not just for the deep-fryer anymore

For years, the only way I’d ever experienced squid was in its fried form – a form that has long been a favourite of mine and my husband’s. So I still remember the first time I ever had grilled squid, because it was so different from my previous experiences and so, so delicious. It was an early dining experience that broadened my horizons, and I made sure to order the dish every time I went to that restaurant.

My horizons were broadened yet again this year, when I ate squid cooked sous vide at the Ideas in Food dinner at Atelier in Ottawa. It had been cooked at 59°C for 3 hours, and was beautifully tender, more akin to pasta than calamari. Later, that time and temperature was revised to 72°C for 10 minutes, which is an awful lot more convenient. It takes longer to get the water bath up to temperature than to cook dinner!

My own attempts at grilling cephalopods (both squid and octopus) have almost always yielded results more suited to bouncing than eating, so I figured sous vide would be a step up. I started by brining them for 10 minutes in a 5% brine, before putting them into the bath. Because I was working with slightly larger squid, I figured 15 minutes of cooking time would be appropriate, but checked them at 10 anyway. That was when I noticed the seal on my FoodSaver bag had failed. Not wanting to rebag them for such a short cooking time – and hey, squid grow up in water, right? – I decided to leave them for the extra 5 minutes anyway. Then I quickly marked them on the grill (largely for appearance) and, after taking a couple of pictures, dressed them lightly with some smoked salt, lemon juice and olive oil.

The texture was tender but remarkably meaty, especially since they were so thick, putting me in mind of “squid steak.” Two of these guys were almost too much for dinner, and they could definitely have taken a heavier sear (maybe with a blowtorch) and a heartier seasoning. I wonder if you can dry-rub squid?

What’s your favourite squid preparation?

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